The Women’s State League Preliminary final featured APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC against the visiting UNSW as both teams looked to book a grand final spot against the SD Raiders FC.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC vs UNSW
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC came into the preliminary final determined to turn around last weekend’s disappointing performance against SD Raiders FC while UNSW travelled to Lambert Park in a confident mood after a hard fought win against St George FC in the first week of the finals.
APIA in the end proved too strong for UNSW as they ran out 2-0 winners in a game that produced few chances. APIA settled the quicker of the two teams as they looked to dominate possession and utilise the width of Lambert Park.
UNSW worked hard to close the gaps and hit APIA on the break using the speed of Yadira Rengifo.
APIA’s dominance in possession though did not turn into an avalanche of chances as they mustered their first shot on the half hour mark through Jessica Martinez as her bent effort went well wide of the UNSW goal.
In truth, the first half failed to catch fire as both defences looked reasonably comfortable in thwarting the attacking talents of both teams. The first half was dominated by the midfield battle with both teams heading to the half time break knowing they would need to produce much more in the final third if they were to book a finals spot.
APIA certainly heeded this need for more attacking incisiveness as barely a minute after the break they broke the deadlock as a scramble in the box from a APIA corner fell to the feet of Stephanie Granville Fyfe who placed her shot clinically.
UNSW could not have asked for a worst start to the second half and it only got more desperate for them as APIA doubled their lead five minutes later as Martinez lifted the ball over the onrushing UNSW goalkeeper before Rebecca Watts tucked it away in the open net.
UNSW attempted to fight their way back into the contest as Rengifo made some space for herself before bending her shot well wide of the APIA goal a few minutes after conceding the second.
APIA’s defence though held strong against the press of UNSW in truth APIA were unlucky not to grab a third as Erin Clout saw her effort bounce off the cross after another scramble in the box.
UNSW continued to press trying to find a way back into the contest but were rather toothless in front of goals as the closest they got in the second half was a bent effort by An Nagayoshi which went over the crossbar after s lovely cutback from the right.
APIA without playing magnificently saw the result out professionally and now have a chance to win the double this year.
APIA coach Matteo Maiorana reiterated this sentiment to Football NSW.
“It wasn’t a great performance.
“Second half was a lot better but the most important thing was to reach the grand final and we have done this.”
UNSW coach Renato Yelen was understandably disappointed with his team’s performance but also conceded his team was beaten by the better side. UNSW though have had a magnificent year and Yelen will know there is much to grow on for next season.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 2(Stephanie Granville-Fyfe 46’, Rebecca Watts 51’)
Sunday September 10 6.45pm, Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 16.Jennifer Bennett,, 7.Erin Clout, 2.Stephanie Granville-Fyfe( 15.Kylie Manias points 73’),1.Courtney Halpin, 12.Madeline Latham(22.Nicole Carmichael 61’), 19.Jessica Martinez, 20.Raymond Gillian, 4.Samantha Scarlato, 13.Marie Sim-Sing(5.Olivia Cicco 70’), 38.Sarah Urquhart(41.Moya Denford 80’),14.Rebecca Watts
UNSW: 6.Claudia Bruno, 4.Tara Casserly, 22.Heidi Cummings, 1.Bronte Finegan, 5.Donna Helm, 27.Alice Kreisler, 10.Christine Lucantonio, 33.An Nagayoshi(11.Summer Dann 80’) 34.Yadira Rengifo, 36.Miranda Summersby-Mitchell, 8.Nicole Zwahlen
Substitutes not used: 3.Charlotte Bridson, 30.Grace McCormick, 17.Andrea Olrich
-By Sebastian Kalos